Giro d’Italia rider suffered asthma attack that caused him to crash into ravine on Mortirolo

Disaster struck Alexis Vuillermoz on the hardest climb of the race

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

A Giro d’Italia rider suffered a lucky escape while tackling the monstrous Mortirolo climb, when he suffered a violent asthma attack that caused him to fall into a ravine.

Alexis Vuillermoz crashed while battling over the toughest mountain of the race so far when he was hit by the attack, and was helped by his team-mates and race organisers.

The Ag2r La Mondiale rider was miraculously able to re-mount his bike and finish stage 16, despite the frightening moment.

>>> ‘It’s obvious Nibali is the most dangerous rival’: Richard Carapaz survives a tough day in pink

Posting on Twitter after the stage, he said: “A huge thank you to the staff, to my buddies at Ag2r La Mondiale but also to the organisers of the Giro d’Italia for making sure I was safe after a violent asthma attack on the Mortirolo that made me fall into a ravine… uphill.

“Fall seven times, rise eight?"

See more

The 30-year-old crossed the line in 117th place but still remains an admirable 31st overall.

Ag2r La Mondiale have been anonymous in the Giro d’Italia 2019, but had a particularly disastrous stage 16 when Tony Gallopin was forced to abandon the race due to knee pain.

It was a chaotic mountain stage on the road to Ponte di Ligno, which had been redesigned after extreme weather made the planned ascent of the Gavia unsafe.

See more

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) rode to a momentous victory on home soil, as maglia rosa Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) took time out of pre-race favourite Primož Roglič.

>>> Remco Evenepoel says helmet ‘saved his life’ after final kilometre crash at Tour of Norway

Horrendous weather conditions saw riders pouring hot tea over themselves in an attempt to warm up, as rain battered the riders over the top of the legendary Passo del Mortirolo.

Israel Cycling Academy rider Conor Dunne said: “So cold down that descent I poured hot tea all over myself to try and warm up on the valley road to the finish.

“Bonkers day at the Giro.”

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.